Life Oracle is better off pretending it's not an Oracle (and it sucks at low level)


Oracle Playtest


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After playing in a long one-shot with my friend playing one and messing around with it in some mock ups myself, we came to some conclusions about the Life Oracle I figured I'd want to share. Instead of doing an encounter by encounter break down I figured I'd just go over the big observations.

First, the title comment: The Oracle class presents itself as struggling with high risk, high reward curses and using a cycle of refocus and revelation spells to bounce between states.

From our play, we decided the Life Oracle was better off just whiffing two focus spells early in the day to put themselves in Moderate so they could get the buffs to their healing. The penalty never mattered at all and the bonuses were freebies that were too hard to just ignore. Contrary to popular opinion online, we found Life's curse to be the easiest to manage by far. This segues into a second observation though...

Delay Affliction is a bad focus spell By their nature and the nature of PF2's rest mechanics, focus spells are something the game encourages you to use fairly regular. Basically once per combat. Delay Affliction just isn't that kind of spell. I'm sure if we ran into an enemy with a nasty disease or poison it would have been nice to have, but that just doesn't come up often enough for it to be your four times a day spell. The domain spell from Healing domain is about the same and these two together are another reason why it was so easy to just ignore the whole Revelation mechanic and just sit in Moderate all day.

Oracles (and maybe divine casters in general) need something to do at low levels A level one oracle has two spells per day. That's it. We get delay affliction too, but as said in the last paragraph, delay affliction sucks. So once those are used up, or before those are used up, what the hell are we supposed to do?

Clerics address this problem by getting Divine Font and even with just 12 Cha that gives them twice as many spell slots at level one as an Oracle. They also get their deity's favored weapon, which can sometimes help too. Neither of us have played a divine sorcerer but looking at how crappy Celestial's first focus spell is, presumably they're in the same boat as the Oracle. So what the hell are we supposed to do? Throw Lances? Well...

Divine Lance kinda sucks This spell really needs clarification on how it works with classes that don't require deities. We house ruled that it just matched our Oracle's alignment for now. This isn't really an Oracle specific thing, but it plays off the last observation. A lot of people seem to love this spell but we were unimpressed. It does basic cantrip damage (but with no rider like ray of frost or produce flame) and doesn't work on a lot of enemies. After an encounter where our Oracle essentially did nothing the entire fight because the enemies were neutral and she didn't want to waste a spell slot (her fault for not bringing a crossbow, but imo Paizo's fault for leaving the class so barren) we just ruled the attack could damage anything. Hasn't caused any problems.

The major curse is more about undead killing than healing. The healing given by the major version of the Oracle curse felt like overkill on top of being too hard to aim. Again, better to just sit in Moderate for most of the day and ignore the curse mechanic. Where it did shine though was when fighting the Undead, where it dispensed a lot of healing on our allies and a lot of damage on the enemies at once.

There's a very vivid memory there of our Oracle at level 15 dropping a double heal bomb against an undead miniboss and some mooks, basically full healing the party, killing a couple of the mooks and taking off a bit less than half of the boss' health all at once. She nearly killed herself in the process, but it was a complete game changer for that fight so we were okay with that trade off.

In that regard it's either the best or worst major curse Between how heavy the backlash is and the risk of healing enemies, this definitely feels more like an emergency button than part of your core gameplay loop.
I can't decide whether that's a good thing, because it legitimately feels amazing to use when it comes together, or problematic because you're better off pretending it isn't there at all.
Curses could probably at least use more consistency. By comparison, Flame and Battle have fairly mundane Major curse effects with fairly mediocre rewards and I can't tell what the design goal is. FWIW I'd probably have more fun with Flame if it felt more 'limit break and then you die' like Life's does, but this thread isn't about Flame.

The most egregious issue for us was the low level play problems though. Between how niche delay affliction is, only having two spell slots, divine lance being so niche and not getting good weapons, the class legitimately felt really bad to play at level one and the alternative of plinking away with a crossbow most of the day is just not remotely satisfying.


IMO, Divine Lance is only effective for creatures w/ Weakness Good (or whatever alignment you're firing), some of whom also have regeneration stopped by that damage. So it has limited, powerful application.

The Divine Cantrips lack any bread-n'-butter attack spell, so one might want to pick up an innate one somewhere along the way. Depends of course, but it would use Charisma.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:

IMO, Divine Lance is only effective for creatures w/ Weakness Good (or whatever alignment you're firing), some of whom also have regeneration stopped by that damage. So it has limited, powerful application.

The Divine Cantrips lack any bread-n'-butter attack spell, so one might want to pick up an innate one somewhere along the way. Depends of course, but it would use Charisma.

An innate cantrip would have probably helped a lot, yeah. I still think the class could use more in-house solutions though to this problem though.


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Squiggit wrote:
Castilliano wrote:

IMO, Divine Lance is only effective for creatures w/ Weakness Good (or whatever alignment you're firing), some of whom also have regeneration stopped by that damage. So it has limited, powerful application.

The Divine Cantrips lack any bread-n'-butter attack spell, so one might want to pick up an innate one somewhere along the way. Depends of course, but it would use Charisma.

An innate cantrip would have probably helped a lot, yeah. I still think the class could use more in-house solutions though to this problem though.

This is a general problem for the divine list as a whole, really. I hope the APG gives us some sort of divine ranged attack cantrip that's not as weak as "Daze" or as restricted as "Divine Lance", especially since most Oracles are going to be the caster-y kind, not the martial kind.


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Daze feels like a pretty decent back up option. It won't work on mindless undead, but Lance will if you're channeling good. That basically just leaves constructs as something you're helpless against, but golems are immune to so much magic anyway it almost doesn't matter.

Honestly, I think Daze is underated. Sure, the damage is lower, but it still does some on a successful saving throw, targets a save that tends to be very weak for low level enemies, and has twice the range of everything but Ray of Frost.


Captain Morgan wrote:

Daze feels like a pretty decent back up option. It won't work on mindless undead, but Lance will if you're channeling good. That basically just leaves constructs as something you're helpless against, but golems are immune to so much magic anyway it almost doesn't matter.

Honestly, I think Daze is underated. Sure, the damage is lower, but it still does some on a successful saving throw, targets a save that tends to be very weak for low level enemies, and has twice the range of everything but Ray of Frost.

Daze's damage scales extremely poorly but at level one it's a constant 4 damage compared to average 6.5 of other cantrips (with telekinetic hitting for 7.5 average). Also, it's a save so it gets half damage most of the time if it fails. Non-undead mindless creatures are a problem (if you know about undead you can bring disrupt undead after all).

Divine casters can get cantrip damage, it's just much more effort because you're shifting between Daze, Chill Touch, and Disrupt Undead with possible Divine Lance. The other lists can just pick something and run with it.

The list does have issues with being too tied to worshiping a specific deity though for damage spells (spiritual weapon is glaring because it's otherwise a nice efficient option)


As a cloistered Cleric, I fixed the problem by going Human for Adapted Cantrip. That lets you take any one cantrip in the game, and it's not innate so you don't need Charisma.

It's very limiting if you don't want to play a human and burn an ancestry feat though.


Title: Life oracle should pretend they're not an oracle.

Post: Our Oracle went up to moderate curse each day to gain the benefits, and I agree it is good to interact with the curse mechanic in this way.

Hmm...

Grand Lodge

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I found taking sorcerer dedication and basic bloodline spell for angelic halo to be pretty worthwhile for the Life Oracle I playtested. I realized when building her that I’d want to have a revelation spell I can cast each combat so that gave me a decent way to heal after combat when I only had to deal with my minor curse, but still have the moderate curse benefit in combat.

Though I shouldn’t have had to multiclass to do that in the first place in my opinion.

Really, Paizo, it’s okay to make the oracle revelation spells a teensy bit more powerful (and usable) than other class’ focus spells. They do have to contend with the curse drawbacks after all.

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